A platoon of inexperienced British soldiers crosses to France, in excited and nervous anticipation of what is to come; they find themselves at Ypres where the battle-weary Allied troops are dug in, and slaughter surrounds them. With their young, upright officer Freddy Mann, they are soon in the thick of it, burying the dead, experiencing the terror of bombardment, being picked off by snipers, with some unable to cope and refusing to go over the top. We see the action through their eyes, from privates to the senior officers of the wider battalion, with a focus on Freddy Mann's journey from idealistic officer barely out of school, to battle-hardened cynic, barely hanging on as those around him are cut down, maimed or crack. Freddy suffers a crisis of faith and loses his belief in the war and everything he once stood for; as he wrestles with his conscience he finds that for all 'always at the end, is Ypres'.
Stanley Ronald Kershaw Gurner (1890-1939) was a writer and headmaster. A classics scholar at Oxford, he became a teacher after university. In 1914 he was commissioned into the Rifle Brigade and served two years in the trenches before being wounded at Arras, where he won the Military Cross, in 1917 by a sniper. After the war he went on to be headmaster of three schools, including Whitgift School in Croydon. He wrote several novels; Pass Guard at Ypres is a thinly disguised autobiography of his time as a junior officer during WWI.